Deepening the erosion of civil liberties, subsidies of LPG now cannot be received unless you sign up into the club of Aadhaar. A firm warning was fired to the some 20% subscribers who have not yet given in to enrolling with UIDAI’s database by the Oil Ministry. Chief Executive of the UIDAI, Mr A. B. Pandey cited Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act to rifle home the point that Aadhaar numbers are mandatory for the receipt of subsidies that fall under the Consolidated fund of India.
The Bullish Bear has earlier neurotically documented the hidden abuses of the UIDAI system in this blog at Liberty Here and Now. Here, I document how, contrary to the claims by politicians, the UIDAI system is extremely costly, insecure, exclusionary and is basically meant to control our existence and identity. On 22nd April, 2013, a Parliamentary panel headed by former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, who himself was a prominent member of today’s ruling party, had stated that the UIDAI was “discharging its functions without any legal basis.”
Since then, the same party has come into power, but instead of terminating the program, continued throwing money into the system, making a terribly awkward push for its legalization via the route of the money bill (which avoids formal scrutiny of the Upper House) as late as March of 2016! This only proved how dubious the whole system was – that it had to be dressed up as a financial matter of transfer payments – whatever happened to all the social motives! But let’s leave aside the question of whether LPG subsidies make economic sense, and focus solely on the technical aspects of the use of Aadhaar by the government.
Alert readers may recall that the Supreme Court, in a much publicized ruling in August 2015, had rebuked the RBI and the Election Commission, who tried to mandate the Aadhaar card for banking and voting purposes. It instructed the Government to make people aware through public advertisements that Aadhaar card was not mandatory. Moreover, in February 2014, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Veerappa Moily had admitted in public that the Aadhaar was not mandatory for receiving LPG subsidies. A year is all it has taken for the public to lose focus and for the government to continue its unethical database building.
A report filed by the Mint newspaper also suggested that the Aadhaar number could be mandated for use in the PDS, MNREGA and pension schemes.
“There can’t be a situation where you say, ‘I don’t want to enroll for Aadhaar’”
This latest transgression by the government, Center or State is far from the first. Readily searchable, I document 6 such instances over the past month alone:
#1 Maharashtra’s state level education boards mandating Aadhaar card for registration in examinations and disbursal of scholarships (Times of India, Oct 6, 2016). This was the second time the Maharashtra government was caught openly flouting orders issued by the apex court. In April, 2015, the same government had issued a resolution for making Aadhaar mandatory for all students up to 14 years of age in the state and connect it with their school admission number (Moneylife, Oct 5, 2016)
#2 The Wrestling Federation of India requires that wrestlers have an Aadhaar card to participate in national level tournaments (The Indian Express, Sep 27, 2016)
#3 Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools not only forcing students to provide the UID number, but also arranging camps for enrolment of Aadhaar for those who do not have the UID number (Moneylife, Sep 27, 2016)
#4 A letter on July 14, 2016, addressed by the Center to States and Union Territories demanding that Aadhaar card be made mandatory for students for applying for pre-matric, post-matric and merit-cum-means scholarship schemes. (The Hindu, Sep 26, 2016)
#5 The UIDAI instructed all the Union and State Ministries that the Aadhar card will be mandatory for all services, benefits, and subsidies funded from the Consolidated Fund of India. He was quoted as saying, “There can’t be a situation where you say, ‘I don’t want to enroll for Aadhaar.’” (Inc42, Sep 20, 2016)
#6 Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Chairman and Managing Director A.K. Manocha: Senior citizens will be unable to get ticket concessions without Aadhaar from December, 2016 (The Hindu, September 12, 2016)
Aadhaar [Hindi “आधार”] means “base” or a “foundation”. So far, the UIDAI’s Aadhaar system has been destroying the foundation of citizen’s privacy and the bureaucratic class has been desperately ramming home this database shamelessly and baselessly.